The ballot questions, direct appeals in death

The structure of the Nevada Judiciary is divided into three levels: appellate court (Nevada Supreme Court), courts of general jurisdiction (Nevada district courts), and courts of limited jurisdiction (justice courts and municipal courts). Nevada does not have an intermediate court of appeals between its supreme court and trial courts. The Nevada Judiciaries chief function is to interpret state statutes and state constitutional provisions and impose sanctions on those who violate them. The Nevada Supreme Court is the highest level court and is the court of last resort in the state judicial system. Justices on the court are elected for six-year, staggered terms. Due to the increased workload the justices would sit in two panels of three to hear appeals. One in Carson City and one in Las Vegas. The panels are randomly appointed and membership rotates every twelve months. All seven justices sit as a group to hear only the most important cases, such as those involving ballot questions, direct appeals in death penalty cases, and contested cases involving attorney suspension or disbarment. To decide who the chief justice is among two or more people in their last 2 years of a term they typically toss a coin or take turns with one of them serving as chief justice the first year and the other the second year. The other would in the meantime serve as vice-chief justice. The Nevada Supreme Court exercises both original and appellate jurisdiction. The Nevada Supreme Court hears appeals coming from the state’s district courts but is restricted to hearing questions of law only and not questions of fact. Additionally, they decide whether/ why they believe the proceeding in the district courts were proper or improper. District court judges are chosen in non partisan elections just for six-year terms just like the supreme court justices. There have been ten judicial districts in Nevada. The judges in each district usually vary on the population of that district. However, district courts are single-judge courts, meaning that cases are heard by a single judge and not by a panel as in the supreme court. In some civil cases and in all “serious” criminal cases, defined as those in which the defendant may receive a penalty of incarceration of more than six months, the defendant is entitled to a jury trial. The district courts exercise both appellate and original jurisdiction. In 1990 legislature established family court divisions within the district courts. The lowest tier in Nevada’s judicial system, the courts of limited jurisdictions, consist of the justice and municipal courts. They have original jurisdiction only and hear minor criminal and civil matters, most notably traffic violations. Judges in the justice courts are referred to as justices of the peace and are selected by the voters of the state’s forty-three townships in nonpartisan elections for six-year, staggered terms. Justice courts have three major duties: to hear cases involving minor criminal offenses (misdemeanors), to hear civil cases of $10,000, or less, and to hold preliminary hearings in felony and gross misdemeanor cases to determine if there is probable cause to hold the defendant over for trial in a district court. The chief function of municipal courts is to hear traffic cases and cases involving violations of city ordinances. Those who are elected, such as judges in Sparks and Las Vegas, serve four-year terms of office while those who are appointed, as those in Boulder city, serve at the pleasure of the city council. In 1976 the voters of Nevada approved a constitutional amendment establishing a state Commision on Judicial Discipline. The commission has 7 members: 2 judges or justices appointed by the supreme court, two members of the State Bar of Nevada selected by the bar’s board of governor, and 3 lay-people appointed by the governor. This commission has the authority only to censure, retire, or remove supreme court and district court judges and retire or remove, but not censure, municipal and justice court judges.The Intermediate Court of Appeals is a court that hears appeals of trial court decisions. They make sure that the law has been applied correctly in a trial court. New facts cannot be introduced in the appellate courts and if new facts are available, the case goes back to a trial court. The final appeals court is the Supreme Court of the US.

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